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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Homeschool Crew Review: UnLock Math

UnLock Math

Math is one of those subjects in this house.  A few of my children have found math to be very easy.  Others have found it incredibly challenging, and a few of the children just plain struggle with math.  I was looking for a new math curriculum for my 13 year old son and was excited to have an opportunity to use and review UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math.

UnLock Math pre-algebra
UnLock Math is an online math curriculum that is accessed through a web browser.  Once your child logs in, they are taken to their dashboard which shows the list of lessons in their course, their progress, their average, and their unit progress. They can also access a grade book and course progress report from the dashboard.  As the student completes each unit the symbol beside the unit changes from a purple locked button to a blue unlocked button.  Each of the lessons follows a similar format starting with a warm up, followed by a video lesson, practice problems, stay sharp questions, and a challenge question.  They are also able to print out the reference notes for each lesson.

UnLock Math courses are graded automatically.  The warm up exercises do not count as part of the grade.  Practice problems count for 30 % of the grade and students can redo those.  The best grade is recorded. Stay Sharp questions are worth 10%. Challenge Questions give students a 5 % bonus if they get them correct but do not count against them if they are incorrect.  Quizzes count as 15 % and also can be redone if needed. Unit Tests count as 30 % and also can be taken more then once.  The Mid-Term is worth 5% and the final exam is worth 10 %.  They also can be taken multiple times.

Subscriptions for UnLock Math cost $49 a month or $299 per year.  They offer a 50 % discount for siblings.  UnLock Math offers courses in Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry.  Pre-Calculus is set to release in 2018 and Calculus in 2019.   There is a demo lesson you can view to see how the course works.

UnLock Pre-Algebra has 15 units:

Whole Numbers
Variables and Expressions
Rational Numbers
The Coordinate Plane
2D Geometry
3D Geometry
Analyzing Data
Probability and Statistics

Each lesson takes around 30 minutes to complete. If you follow the suggested pacing guide, the course can be completed in 159 days which is 32 weeks if you follow a 5 day a week schedule or 40 weeks if you follow a 4 day a week schedule.

Here is a screen shot of part of Alex's dashboard. This is what he sees when he logs in. 

You click on the rocket of the unit you are working on and that takes you to this page.  The lessons get unlocked as they are completed.  All of the lessons are on the lest side of the page and the quizzes and test are on the right side of the page.

Once you click on your lesson you are taken to this page.  All they have to do is follow the path for each lesson. 

When they are working on the problems, only one problem is shown on the screen at a time.

The Gradebook reports show what day and time students completed a lesson, how long they spent on each part of the lesson, how many questions in the section and how many were correct. You also have the ability to click on the details button and see what each question was, how your student responded, and the detailed explanations.

I used the same math curriculum for many years, and it worked well for my two oldest children, but not so well for the others. So last year I made a change.  Alex wanted something that was on the computer.  He is a visual and kinesthetic learner.  We chose a popular computer math program and I did not go well.  He was frustrated with it every day and it took him forever to complete his math assignments.  I was very excited to have the opportunity to try UnLock Pre-Algebra. 

I love the way the course is laid out.  It is very easy to see what you have done and how you are doing as you progress through the course.  I love the way the lessons are laid out.  Constant review is built in to the lessons.  The lessons videos are wonderful.  The instructor, Alesia Blackwood, is very enthusiastic about what she is teaching, and it shows.  I love that you see the instructor and that she is working out actual problems on a whiteboard while she is teaching.  She uses a lot of real life examples and visuals (like a number line) in her examples.  When the student is working on the problems, there is only one problem at a time on the screen.  This enables them to focus just on that problem and not worry about what it ahead.  The screen is free of distractions.  If the student gets an answer incorrect, they can see a detailed step by step explanation of the problem so they know what they did wrong and how to do it correctly the next time.

As a busy homeschool mom, I love that not only the teaching is done by someone else, but I do not have to grade a thing!  That is one thing I am not always great at and if you get behind in looking over your child's math and they are doing something wrong, they now have to unlearn what they have been doing wrong.  I love that UnLock Math takes care of that for me automatically and that I can see very quickly what has been completed and exactly what he got right and wrong. 

I had one problem with a technical issue during the course of this review, and I sent an email to ask about it.  Within 24 hours I received a response and a solution was soon to follow.  Good customer service is very important when using an online course.

UnLock Math wants your child to be successful in math!  I have been very impressed with this course!

Members of The Crew reviewed all of the current available levels of UnLock Math.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Homeschool Crew Review: Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series

Adventures of Rush Revere
I spend a lot of time reading aloud to my children.  We recently were offered an opportunity from
Adventures of Rush Revere #1 New York Times Bestselling Book Series by Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh to read and review the Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series.

Adventures of Rush Revere
The Adventures of Rush Revere Book Series features substitute teacher Rush Revere and his talking, time traveling horse, Liberty.  In each of the books, Rush, Liberty, and some middle school students experience history first hand by traveling back in time, going to famous places in history and meeting important people.  Throughout each of these hardcover books you will find illustrations and historical documents.

The first book in the series is Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims.  In this book, Rush, Tommy, and Freedom along with Liberty the horse, see first hand how the Pilgrims came to the new world.  They saw the building of the colony and had an opportunity to meet people like Miles Standish, William Bradford, Squanto, and Samoset.  They also attended the first Thanksgiving.

The second book is Rush Revere and the First Patriots.  In this book Rush and his crew travel back to Boston in 1765 where they have an opportunity to see the beginnings of America's fight for independence and meet famous people such as Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Patrick Henry.  They also visit Windsor Castle in England, meet King George III, and have to stop a plan of one of the kids to change the course of history.

Rush Revere and the American Revolution is book 3.  In this book, we travel back to 1775 and meet Americans such as George Washington, Paul Revere, and John Hancock.  We see famous landmarks like the Old North Church, Bunker Hill, Lexington, and Concord.  These events take on a special meaning to Cam, whose father has been deployed to Afghanistan in the modern day.

Rush Revere and the Star Spangled Banner is the 4th book.  The crew rushes off to history starting in 1787, meeting James Madison and seeing debates over the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.  Fast forward a few years as Dolly saves an important portrait from the White House.  In 1814 they end up on a British Ship, and meet Francis Scott Key.

Book Five is called Rush Revere and the Presidency.  When Cam decides to run for student body president, Rush Revere and Liberty take him back in time to see presidents and first ladies Washington, Adams, and Jefferson to learn from them and defeat an old nemesis in the election.

I read aloud Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims to my 6,8, 10, 11, and 13 year olds, and read through the remaining books in the series on my own.  We enjoy reading historical fiction type stories because I think they are a great way to bring history to life.  I was very impressed when my package arrived.  The books were all tied together with a beautiful blue ribbon and looked so pretty I didn't want to untie it!

I did of course.  The quality of the books are impressive.  They are heavy hardcover books with thick sturdy pages.  I personally think the oversized head on Rush Revere's body is silly, but love the inclusion of the historical drawings, documents, and illustrations in the book.

The story itself interested the children as soon as I started reading.  Most children would find a talking, time traveling horse who can also turn invisible and freeze time very interesting. Through reading this series children get a first hand look at many events that happened in history.  I even learned some things I didn't know.  While reading Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, there was a mention of some boys that shot off a fire arm on the boat and the children asked me if that really happened.  We googled it and discovered it did in fact happen as well as some other incidents involving the same family. We found that very interesting!

One thing that bothers the children is the fact that Rush and the others interact with the people they are traveling to see.  They even gave and received gifts and Rush offered advice about some things.  At one point Rush talks to the children traveling with them about not changing history by interfering in what is going on, but my family believes just their presence and interacting with the people would have changed history and messed up the space time continuum. They are a pretty logical bunch.  There is also a lot of conversations between Liberty and Rush and the kids that I don't think adds anything to the story and could've been left out.

We are studying American History next year and the children have already asked about when I will be reading the other books in the series aloud, so we will be adding the rest of the books to our evening read aloud list.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: An Amish Home by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Kathleen Fuller, and Ruth Reid

"Book Description :

A Cup Half Full by Beth Wiseman—Sarah Lantz always dreamed of the perfect home, the perfect husband, the perfect family. When she married Abram, she knew she was on her way to securing her perfect life. All of that changes in one moment when an accident leaves her unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair, dashing all of her dreams. As Abram starts to transform their home, Sarah begins a transformation in her spirit, and she begins, once again, to see her cup as half full.

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston—Down on their luck and desperate after they are evicted from their small apartment, Chace and Mia O’Conner reluctantly take Chace’s Amish boss up on his offer to rent them the daadihaus located on his property. They are certain they will never feel at home in the rustic cabin without any modern conveniences, and they start to blame each other for their seemingly hopeless situation. But with the help of their new Amish friends, Chace and Mia begin to enjoy their cozy cabin and realize that home really is where the heart is.

Building Faith by Kathleen Fuller—Faith Miller knows that carpentry is an unlikely hobby for a young Amish woman, but she loves the work and it keeps the memory of her grandfather alive. So when her cousin asks Faith to build the cabinets in her new home, Faith is only too happy to take on the job, even if it is the most ambitious project she has ever taken on. The only catch is that she has to work with her ex-fiance, Silas. As they work to build Martha’s kitchen, can they put the past behind them and start to build faith in one another again?

A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid—Fifteen years ago, Thomas and Noreen King were blissful newlyweds. Young, naive, and in love, life was rosy . . . for a while. Then trials and tribulations rocked their foundation, shattering them emotionally, and soon, their marriage was in shards. All hope for restoring their previously unshakable union seems lost. When fire destroys their home, Thomas and Noreen are left to sift through the rubble. As uncovered items from the remains of the house shake loose memories of the past, Thomas and Noreen begin to draw closer and a flicker of hope—and love—is re-ignited."

I have read several of the books in the series and have also enjoyed other books by the authors as well.  An Amish Home is a collection of 4 stories that center around the Amish Home.  But, these Amish Homes are not what you consider typical.  Each of the characters face different challenges that cause them to change their ideas of what their home and lives should be like and that they needed to show love and support for each other no matter the circumstances, and put their faith in God.  Each one of these stories was uplifting and hopeful and it made for a nice easy read.  Each story is not a full length book, but rather a short novella at around 100 pages.  You do not get the same insight into all of the characters and their situations like you do in a full length novel, but the authors do a great job completing the story in the time they have.  It is hard to choose a favorite, but A Cup Half Full really touched my heart.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to the FTC regulations.

Homeschool Crew Review: Apologia's Internship for High School Credit

Apologia Educational Ministries

I have used many, many products from Apologia Educational Ministries over the 12 years that I have been homeschooling.  They are very well known for their science and Bible curriculum, but also have a variety of other products including language arts, government, homeschooling helps, and electives.  Our latest review from Apologia is Internship for High School Credit.

Internship for High School Credit
Internships can be a great way for high school students to explore a career path to gain more knowledge in a particular field, learn from hands on experience, and make a decision about whether or not it might be a career they would like to pursue.  Working as an intern can also give students an advantage when applying for college or future employment. Students can also earn high school credits while they are working on a internship. 

Apologia's Internship for High School Credit ($33), is a workbook that will help guide parents and students through the Internship Process.  The book is a spiral bound page book with sections for the both the parent and student to read as well as workbook pages for the student to fill out as they are working through the internship.  The book has tips and suggestions for searching for a place to do an internship in different fields and practical suggestions for what to wear and how to act at an interview.   There are many suggestions for writing a resume and a sample for you to follow.  For parents you will find suggestions for meeting and interviewing the people who will be working with your child and suggestions for recording their internship on their high school transcripts.  There are also many encouraging and helpful quotes throughout the book and tips for being successful.

Once you have an internship, the workbook pages will help you record your work.  There is a worksheet to list your specific goals, worksheets to log your hours and dates worked and questions and activities for each week of the semester such as: What are the reasons you chose this field for an internship?  How are you enjoying your work experience? Make a list of terminology used in the workplace.  There is a midterm work performance worksheet for your employer to fill out and an end of semester work performance sheet.  There is a skills gained worksheet for you to record new experiences and opportunities.The assignments for the second semester are a bit more in depth and involve several different writing assignments that need to be completed on separate pieces of paper or typed on a computer.The course wrap up includes a sample thank you note to write to your employer, tips for asking for a letter of recommendation and for updating your resume.

I currently have one student in high school and another that will be next year and may be considering having my sons look for internship opportunities in the future.  I found the Internship for High School Credit book full of helpful information both for the parent and the student.  I especially appreciated the sample resume because it gave good information about how to write a resume for a student that does not have much of a work history.  The included worksheets are a wonderful resource for a student to use as they go through their internship and also will help document what they have done and how many hours they spent for the purpose of recording that information in the student's transcript.  Internship for High School Credit is a wonderful, affordable resource for homeschooling families with high school students.

Members of the Crew also reviewed How to HOMESCHOOL with Stunning Confidence, Contagious Joy, and Amazing Focus (DVD & Coursebook) To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Our Week in Review (June 5-11)

This week was Vacation Bible School at our church.  Our theme was Hero Central, Discover Your Strength in God. Each day the children learned that God's Heroes have Heart, Courage, Wisdom, Hope, and Power and their verse was Do Good, Seek Peace, and Go After It!  Each day the children had music in the opening and closing, heard a Bible story, made a snack, played games, made crafts, and had a science lesson all revolving around the theme of the day.

Nicholas was the recreation leader this year.  Alex was the story leader.  Chelsea and I did the science station.  This was a change for me. I usually am the adult volunteer that leads the preschoolers to all of the stations.  But when our committee was choosing our Bible School curriculum last February and there was a Science Station leader guide, it was something I really wanted to do ( I love science!)and the others all thought it would be a great addition to our Bible School.

Each day had 2 experiments listed.  There were two days that I was afraid the activities we had would not last long enough and I brought two extra experiments.  Each of the science lessons were based on the Bible story from that day.  All of the children seemed really excited about the science lessons and wanted to participate in everything I did. I even had youth that came over each day to see what we were doing.  I am glad they had fun with the science and hope that they made the connection to the Bible lessons!  We had 5 groups of children from Pre-k-5th grade.

Day 1 we did a sinking and floating experiment and we did different mixtures of baking soda, soap, and vinegar.

Day 2 we did an experiment with magnets and pushed straws through potatoes.

Day 3 we made pillars of strength and did an optical illusion.  Those we short so I also did color changing milk.

Day 4 we blew sock bubbles (this is really cool but make sure they don't breath the soap in!!) using water bottles with the bottom cut off, a sock over top, and dipping in a mixture of Dawn dish soap and water.  We also did the leak proof bag.  I had a child ask me if a could make a cloud, so I did a cloud in a jar.

Day 5 we did an experiment with a ping pong ball, paper towel tube and hair dryer, and made rainbows that melted ice using rock salt colored with food coloring.

Bible School lasts from 9-12, so I had to get up by 6:30 every morning and head out of the house by 8:15.  We got back home around 12:30 each day.  Monday and Thursday I had to take Chelsea up to the doctor after Bible school.  Wednesday I had a horrific headache all day so I crashed on the couch after VBS was over.  Tuesday we did do a little bit of school work.  The younger children did k5, Alex did a few lessons of UnLock Math, and we watched a lesson of Doctor Aviation.  Friday we took down decorations at church and went grocery shopping. Saturday I was very glad to have a day to stay home!  We did a lot of inside and outside work.

VBS is exhausting for the kids too!  This was Emmie at 4:30 on Wednesday.

I hope you had a great week!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Homeschool Crew Review: K5 Learning

K5 Learning

K5 Learning is an online, supplemental reading, spelling, and math program for children in grades K-5th grade.  The program is customized to the child and the child works through the program at their own pace. Over the last several weeks we have had an opportunity to review their online program.
K5 Learning

 It is recommended that your child start with an assessment so the program can place each child in their own skill level rather then their grade level.  The assessment takes about 30 minutes for the math and 30 minutes for the reading.  The parent does not need to make assignments for the student (although that is an option if you choose to do so), the program moves the child through the assignments.  Each interactive segment is only 5-10 minutes long.  Immediate feedback is given to the child.  When they answer the question they are told if it is right or wrong. 

Once the student logs in they click on the Reading/Math section or Spelling section.

When they choose Reading/Math they go to the next screen where they choose reading or math.

Once they click on that, their lesson begins. 

At the end of each segment, they are shown a street light where they can choose go to move on to another segment, or stop which ends the lesson.

The reading section covers 5 skill areas:

Phonemic Awareness
Sight Words
Reading Comprehension

The math section also covers 5 skill areas:

Numbers and Operations
Data Analysis

The spelling section has a database of built in words, or the parent can choose to put in words from their own spelling lists.  You also have the option to choose the number of words that you want your child to be quizzed on.  They can hear the word, read a sentence about the word, and read a dictionary definition of the word.  In the sentence and definition the word is blanked out.  If the student gets the words wrong they have an option to try again after being given a letter clue.  If they do not get the word correct they are shown the word and given an option to practice the word.  There is also a vocabulary tutor in the spelling section.  The student is given a sentence and dictionary definition and they are supposed to guess the word.  If they cannot they can ask for a clue which shows the first letter. A second clue shows the last letter, then they have the option to hear the word.

In addition to the online component, there are printable worksheets that go along with the lessons.  After your child completes a section online, you have the option to print out worksheets for additional practice.  K5 Learning also has a section of free worksheets you can print out. 

I have had my 6,8, 10, and 11 year olds using K5 Learning.  I had each of them go through the assessment.  The assessments are placement assessments, not full blown diagnostic assessments, so after your child completes them they will not place them more then one grade level above their results.  If you find that the assignments are too easy for your child you can request that they be moved to a different level.  I was not surprised by any of the assessments.  I have been using K5 Reading for my 6 and 11 year olds and K5 math for my 8 and 10 year olds.  They all have access to all the parts of the program but these are the areas they need to work on the most, and I have to rotate the computer through all of them.  I have also spent time looking at the spelling portion just for review purposes.

The assessments were a bit boring and the children did not enjoy doing them, but they do break it up so there is a short game between the sections, and I like that the program doesn't automatically put children in their grade number but instead looks to see their skill level.  It is not going to be completely accurate if you have a child that guesses well or stops paying attention and just picks random answers, but it does provide a starting point.  I like that the program is easy to use and once I log her in, even my 6 year old can do it independently.  The activities are interesting and use real life examples.  Some of the math lessons we have done have used cooking, banking, gardening, and counting objects and sorting for their examples.  Anthony's reading comprehension has had him reading about famous people like Abraham Lincoln and Leonardo d Vinci and answering questions about them. Emmie (6) really likes the games that come after a section is mastered.  I have not seen games for the older children, although the program will say they are going to play a fun game and it just goes on to another lesson.  The next lesson is supposed to be the fun game. I like that the lessons are short.  I do have them complete several lessons each day.

After the children complete an entire section. their progress is visible in a parent report.  The parent can log in and see how the child has been doing.

We do not do use a lot of computer programs, but sometimes they can help reinforce what the child is learning or help them in areas they are struggling in.  Lily was having a hard time with place value notation, but after completing the lessons in K5 she now understands it.  Christian was struggling in geometry, and has a much better understanding after completing those sections.  I did not assign anything to them, that was where the program had them begin in.

When we were testing out the spelling section, we did notice that the voice that says the word can be really hard to understand.  I did also want to mention that in some of the reading comprehension exercises there were references evolution and millions of years in a section about dinosaurs. 

K5 offers a 14 day free trial.  Subscriptions can be purchased monthly, or yearly, with discounts given for multiple children. 

We have enjoyed using K5 Learning and I will continue to have the children work on this over the summer.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Homeschool Crew Review: Latin Christiana Complete Set

Memoria Press

Memoria Press  produces easy to use, classical, Christian materials for home and private schools. Memoria Press products require no previous knowledge of the subjects being taught but are designed with high academic standards.  I have always been very pleased with the products we have received from Memoria Press and was excited to have an opportunity to use and review the new edition of  Latin Christiana Complete Set.

Latina Christiana Complete Set

Latin Christiana is a beginning Latin course with a suggested age range of grades 3-6.  The teacher does not need to have any prior experience in Latin to teach this course.  When the student completes the course they will have learned: 25 Latin sayings, 2 prayers, 3 songs, and how to pronounce, spell, and translate 200 Latin words.  They will also understand  how to conjugate first and second conjugation verbs in the present, imperfect and future tenses, understand tense, number, gender, 1st, 2nd, 3rd person, decline first and second declension nouns and adjectives, make adjectives and nouns agree in number and gender, and recite and spell five cases of Latin nouns.

There are 5 main components to the Latin Christiana Complete Set:

Latin Christiana Teacher Manual: This is a spiral bound 187 page book.  It contains the pronunciation rules, grammar overview, student goals, teaching guidelines, entire student guide with answers, teaching information on the Latin Sayings, grammar lesson, word study and important things to remember.  There is also a history guide (more on that in a minute), vocabulary index, derivatives and definitions list, advanced grammar overview, quizzes and tests, and answer keys.

Latin Christiana Student Book: This is a 105 page paperback consumable workbook for the student to complete their weekly exercises.  It also has a section of history questions, vocabulary index, English to Latin reference, and derivatives and definitions.

Instructional DVDs: 3 discs with 5.5 hours of teaching.  On these DVDs, Jessica Watson goes through each of the lessons with your student.

Pronunciation CD: This CD contains the prayers and songs and pronunciation for each lessons.

Flashcards: The flashcard set contains the vocabulary words with derivatives, Latin sayings, conjugations and declensions.

Famous Men of Rome from Memoria Press is listed as an optional history component.  There are drill questions included in Latin Christiana for the first 13 lessons in the history guide section along with a history test.  The reading selections are not included you will have to purchase the Famous Men of Rome text separately if you choose to add in the history portion.  If not you can  skip over that section. I already had Famous Men of Rome because we reviewed it a few years ago, so we did add in the history portion.

Latin Christiana is set up to complete one lesson per week.  Their suggested schedule is as follows:

Day 1  teach saying, vocabulary and derivatives and have your student do derivative exercises and written drill with CD. 
Day 2 teach grammar and remaining exercises and written drill with CD. 
Day 3 optional history and questions. 
Day 4 written drill with CD and review. 
Day 5 quiz.

We have a 4 day school week so I modified the suggested schedule a bit.  On Mondays we watched the DVD and completed the exercises in the book.  Tuesday we reviewed the vocabulary with the CD.  Wednesday we read Famous Men of Rome and answered the questions, and Thursdays Quiz.

One of the things that I like the most about Memoria Press products is that you do not have to have any experience with the subject to teach it to your children. The Latin Christiana Complete Set provides you with all of the materials you need to teach your child Latin successfully.  I love that the Teacher's Manual has the entire student manual inside of it.  It is so helpful to be able to see the questions and the answers and not just the answers.  I love that the Teacher Manual is spiral bound and able to be placed flat on the table.

We liked learning the weekly saying and learning the derivatives for the words along with the vocabulary words.  We enjoyed the added history component but I liked the flexibility to be able to leave it out as well.

I love that it includes a DVD that goes over everything in the lesson.  This is great for independent learning and an added bonus for homeschool parents that do not feel confident in teaching their students Latin.  The biggest thing that we found challenging with this course is that it feels as though the teacher is rushing through the lessons on the DVD.  There is supposed to be several pauses to allow the student to repeat back what is being said or to answer a question that was being asked.  The pause is so brief it does not allow the child to actually repeat back or answer.  My son found this very frustrating. 

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog where the Crew have written reviews on different Latin, Nature, and Trees products!